University of California Davis Health System
Healthcare & Gratitude Fundraising Specialist
“Successful fundraising is accomplished when health service organizations engage employees, volunteers, medical and administrative staff as an extension of the hospital's philanthropic efforts. Health care experiences that are less than ideal can also be a positive catalyst for philanthropic patient engagement and positive change”.
Natalie McGee is a healthcare fundraising specialist who collaborates with senior philanthropy staff, medical staff and health system administrative leadership to enhance and steward donor relationships. Acting as a liaison between patients and their healthcare providers, she helps to create a fundraising relationship. A truly international individual from Toronto, Ontario Canada, Natalie began her professional career working 10 years in the social work profession within juvenile justice and treatment capacities.
Natalie stepped into philanthropy gradually and worked in philanthropy for a Detroit Health System and this uniquely allowed her to be ahead of the changing social/ philanthropic landscape of the city and the region. Recruited to Northern California in August 2016 currently, Natalie is the Associate Director for Grateful Patient Giving at the University of California Davis Health System. Her duties include the development and strengthening of the Grateful Patient Program and the Grateful Patient Calling Program. Her main goal has been relationship building within the health system between grateful patients, physicians, and faculty, current and future donors as it relates to donor acquisition and retention of patients. Her favorite AHA moments have come from increasing donors to the health system within the greater Sacramento and Davis communities.
Natalie most recently in May 2017 had an article featured in the digital newsletter “The Hub” for the Association for Donor Relations Professionals. Natalie has a degree in Psychology, a degree in Family & Social Relations and in the beginning stages of the pursuit of a Master of Education in Organizational Learning and Effectiveness.
Natalie’s interview was conducted by AADO member William Bryant.
What is your passion for fundraising?
Fundraising is a profession I fell into after many years as a social worker, based on the prompting of a development officer I worked closely for many years in school-based health. I am a very grateful person and tend to posture myself in gratitude daily, so fundraising and giving back is very natural for me. I am passionate about fundraising and healthcare fundraising. My joy comes full circle when I see an “AHA” moment happening with a patient, donor, or family member when they see the benefit and reciprocal nature of giving philanthropically to a healthcare institution.
Most people, when they think of giving and philanthropy, think of various social institutions such as their church, Salvation Army etc. All these places are wonderful institutions to support, however, healthcare philanthropy is unique in the fact that at some time in life, we all access healthcare, so it benefits you to give to your healthcare institution in whatever capacity you can afford.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a fundraiser?
I would tell an aspiring fundraiser you have to be truly passionate and find joy in the cause you are fundraising for. If you truly believe in the cause you are raising money for then fundraising can be enjoyable and easy. You will get many No’s in fundraising but the No’s don’t deter you because you live for the Yeses and the great things that are done through fundraising efforts. Fundraising is about creating an opportunity of joy for the donor through their giving.
What is the biggest difference in raising funds for higher ED vs a Nonprofit?
To me, the biggest difference between higher ED fundraising and Nonprofit fundraising is the donor pool. For a small to medium-sized nonprofits, there might only be a small subset of the local community or the community at large that is connected to the mission, so the pool of potential donors is less for donor acquisition and you have to be very creative in your messaging and branding to convey the mission to be able to adequately attract new donors. You also have to be more donor retention focused to give value to your current donors and keep them committed and enthused with the call to action and mission of the nonprofit. In higher education fundraising there is often a strong connection with the alumni pool based on their educational experience as well as there are so many subsections within the overall institution that you have a wider pool to fundraise from. In my unique current role where I work for a higher educational institution that also has a health system, my pool is ever larger as I have a pool from the medical school side that can be tapped into as well as the pool of the everyday patients that have great experiences and desire to give back in gratitude to the health system.
Name the top 3 qualities of a fundraising executive?
Integrity: In fundraising, integrity to me is the most important trait you can have. Donors trust you with their money to accomplish their philanthropic goals.
Humility: Fundraising is a very humbling and self-less profession. It is always about the donor and their intent…. It’s not about you. You have to be able to put your thoughts aside and truly listen to the donor to be able to understand their passion for giving to the cause and how you can bring joy to them through their philanthropic giving.
Perseverance: There are many No’s in this profession but also many Yeses! You have to be able to have a tenacity for achieving success.
If you were at a Career Day at a high school, how would you describe what you do to the students?
If I were at a Career Day I would best describe my job as "I work in healthcare fundraising to help patients understand the importance of giving back to the health system where they get their healthcare. I help create joyful ways in which patients can support the health system through solicitations, appeals, as well as personalized fundraising crafted to their unique desire to give back based on the wonderful care they have had, gratitude, or to be able to change an area of lack or need that they see within the health system”.